Brave New Work Book Summary - Brave New Work Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Brave New Work summary

Aaron Dignan

Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?

4.6 (118 ratings)
24 mins
Table of Contents

    Brave New Work
    Summary of 9 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 9

    Traditional organizations are in crisis.

    Let’s begin with a story of sabotage. 

    At the peak of World War Two, the director of the agency that later became the CIA commissioned a special field manual. In the manual were guidelines for destabilizing communities and commerce. The idea was simple: give the manual to citizens friendly to the Allied forces and wage a war of what the manual described as “simple sabotage.”

    Near the end of the manual, there’s a list of actions that interfere with organizations and production. 

    Things like: making it hard to access work resources by setting up complicated bureaucratic systems, never allowing shortcuts that might speed up a process or decision, and adhering to all regulations, always.

    When the author shows this list from the old manual to leaders, many laugh. “That’s exactly what people do where I work!” is the general response.

    Here’s the key message: Traditional organizations are in crisis.

    In short, what amounted to sabotage in 1944 is now just another day in the office.

    Let’s be clear. It’s not that people are trying to be saboteurs. It’s that companies are structured in such a way that following protocol essentially amounts to sabotage.

    This is having an unfortunate effect on companies in at least three ways.

    For one, company lifespan is down. It used to be that a company on the S&P 500 could expect to spend 60 or so years there. Now it’s down to about ten.

    Second, return on assets is also down. Return on assets is the amount of profit a company can generate with what it owns. In addition to being a great all-round metric of performance, it’s also hard to fudge. Unfortunately, since 1965, US return on assets has dropped from nearly 5 percent to just above 1 percent.

    Third, productivity growth has also leveled off. Despite the fact that we’ve made incredible technological gains, we’re still unable to make more stuff per hour than we were ten or 20 years ago.

    If you were to ask an economist why companies seem to be struggling, she’d probably scratch her head. If you ask the people at the edge, those workers on the ground dealing with day-to-day problems, you’ll get a clear answer: bureaucracy.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Brave New Work?

    Key ideas in Brave New Work

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Brave New Work about?

    Brave New Work (2019) is an unusual guide to organizational change. Rather than prescribing techniques for corporate change, it offers suggestions and case studies. The real work of transformation is left up to you.

    Who should read Brave New Work?

    • Start-up leaders looking to transform their organizations
    • Managers and human resources professionals
    • Those interested in the workplaces of the future

    About the Author

    Aaron Dignan is the founder of The Ready, a coaching and organization-design company with clients such as Microsoft, Airbnb, and Johnson & Johnson. He is also an angel investor and has sat on advisory boards for PepsiCo, American Express and GE. 

    Categories with Brave New Work

    Books like Brave New Work

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial